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RSL's Albert Rusnák wastes no time in return from Euro U-21 championships

Published July 2, 2017 11:51 am

Real Salt Lake • He shook off jet lag to play on Friday night.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnák ignored the jet lag and physical fatigue that two days of travel had inflicted on him as he entered Friday's match in the 77th minute.

RSL's 22-year-old designated player landed in Salt Lake City on Thursday following a stint with the Slovakian U-21 national team at the UEFA championship in Poland. He played every minute of Slovakia's three games.

Even so, he committed to playing for RSL the next day in a 1-0 loss to Orlando City at Rio Tinto Stadium.

"I traveled for like two days, from the European Championships to Slovakia, then to Austria, flew to Amsterdam, then to Salt Lake," he said. "So I didn't feel in full shape, but I felt good enough to do 10 minutes."

That's what he and coach Mike Petke decided in a phone conversation when Rusnák landed and an in-person meeting Friday morning, Rusnák said. He'd be available for 10-15 minutes off the bench.

"I was hoping not to play Albert tonight to be honest with you," Petke said after Friday's game, "because he just arrived yesterday morning. So of course he will probably be ready to go [Tuesday]."

RSL's young No. 10 missed two matches with his MLS team while he helped lead Slovakia to a 2-1 record in the U-21 Euro. Slovakia finished second in Group A behind England (2-0-1) and missed qualifying for the semifinals by one goal.

"It was unbelievable," Rusnák said of the atmosphere at the tournament. "When we played England we had 12,000 of our own fans in a different country, and I think the stadium was at 15,000, so it was almost like a home game for us."

Over the course of the tournament Rusnák said he ran into former teammates on every opposing team. When the topic of MLS came up, they joked that he didn't have too poor of start. The instant RSL star leads the team with five assists, and he's scored three goals over 14 matches.

"They knew more about MLS than I would imagine," Rusnák said, "so that shows that MLS is known also in Europe."

After training Saturday, Rusnák said he felt better than he had the night before, but not 100 percent. He expects to be ready for Tuesday's match at Los Angeles.

RSL went 1-1 in Rusnák's absence, with a 1-0 home win against Minnesota and a 2-1 loss at San Jose.

After Saturday's games, RSL (5-12-2) sits in last place (11th) in the Western Conference with 17 points, behind Minnesota (18 points).

What's Rusnák's plan to help remedy that?

"I just want to get back to playing 90 minutes a game and do what I've been doing in the past few games," he said, "and that's contributing with the assists or goals and helping the team win."

mlee@sltrib.com Twitter: @maddie_m_lee






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